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PM's state of the nation speech

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 1/02/2017
Bill English © Nick Perry/AP PHoto Bill English

Bill English is giving his State of Nation speech in Auckland - his first as Prime Minister.

This follows the joint State of the Nation event by the Labour and Green party leaders last weekend.

Speech highlights:

  • Mr English said there were are positive signs for NZ after his meetings with EU and UK officials to talk free trade agreements.
  • But he added that those talks looked "pretty straightforward compared to the complexities and tensions building up in world politics".
  • "Hiding from economic reality eventually requires drastic and damaging change," said Mr English.
  • He said NZers were voting with their feet: "New Zealanders are staying home, more tourists want to visit us, and more people want to come and live here."
  • Mr English said the biggest threat to New Zealand was disruption of the international system of open trade. "Under my leadership, New Zealand will continue to advocate for free trade and aim to execute high quality trade agreements."
  • The government's 'Social Investment' approach - which included reducing welfare dependency and getting better results for children - was showing promising results, said Mr English.
  • "There are now over 50,000 fewer children living in benefit-dependent households than there were in 2011. And the number of sole parents on a benefit is the lowest since 1988."
  • Mr English said the recent rise in the prison population confirmed "we need to do better" - "There remains a small number of people who have a disproportionate impact on the safety of our communities. Too many people in prison and on community sentences are regulars in the government system."
  • Today Mr English announced a $503 million investment in police and the wider justice sector to reduce crime.
  • This will see the funding of more than 1100 additional police staff, of whom 880 will be sworn officers. This will increase the number of sworn officers to nearly 9800 by June 2021, and the number of non-sworn staff to more than 3200.
  • The new funding will include a new national 24/7 phone number for non-emergencies; more staff for up to 20 rural and regional police stations; and more specialist investigators for child protection, sexual assault, family violence and other serious crime.
  • All police districts will receive extra officers, with Police deciding how many will go where, based on need.

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